The Distinguished Gourmand: Simbal
Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles my roommates birthed the idea of a monthly dinner club. It was 2007, and I think it was Sari who suggested the name “Dinner Club For Day People.” The idea was that once a month a group of friends would go out to eat, and at each meal one member of the group was allowed to invite a “Day Person” as their plus-one. A “Day Person” was defined as someone who was not a douchebag, or the kind of person you might befriend randomly at a seedy bar or party (you know, a “Night Person”). Alas, Sari disappeared off the face of the earth, other roommates dropped out or moved away, maybe there was a n awkward breakup involved, and the idea languished in limbo. Finally in 2011, the newly rebranded “Dinner Club” came to live. As Louise put it, our group of friends consists of successful people who deserve to celebrate it. The rules of the new Dinner Club were quite similar to the original iteration. Once a month we would meet at a restaurant of one person’s choosing, and that person (the chooser) could bring a plus-one. The plus one must be vetted by the other club members before they can join in the fun. If all goes exceedingly well, the plus-one might even be made an official member of the club.
We managed to meet maybe three or four times back in 2011 before Dinner Club fell apart. And by fell apart I mean our email chains ceased to elicit responses. I guess you could say we got lazy.
Alas, Louise had the brilliant idea of re-starting Dinner Club in 2015, with a new structure and membership. For our first meeting a combination of new and familiar faces convened at Simbal Restaurant in Little Tokyo (Amanda’s choice – with no plus-one) for the official re-launch of Dinner Club. Here’s my wrap-up, combined with stray observations from Louise:
Nate was late, because he’s a busy successful person and that happens sometimes (also Nate rhymes with Late). As he found his way to our table we were being presented with the dim-sum style cart (kart?) of appetizers made special for that evening. The group chose two plates to share from the cart, one had ground beef (I think?) set atop tangerines and pineapple, the other was a spicy Thai-ish mushroom salad. Our lovely waitress recommended an Austrian white wine that we consumed with aplomb throughout the meal. There are no pictures of the appetizers or wine because the combination of Late’s arrival with that of the food cart’s cause some momentary confusion in regards to procedure. I had the tangerine with meat and it was a fine bite to start the meal. The mushroom salad was quite spicy, in the best possible way.
Hilariously, Louise noted in her Dinner Club minutes that only two of the six diners were smart enough to place their consumed ribs back on the original serving dish to be cleared; the rest of us heathens just let the bones continue to enjoy the club dinner on our plates for the rest of the meal. Good eye, Louise!
After the mussels, the cool kids left the table to smoke while some of us stayed to finish off the wine. As the buspeople (is that the totally-PC, gender neutral term for busboys?) came to clear the table. When someone commented about the cleanliness of the table post-cigarette break I noted that we were not, in fact, clean diners. The table basically looked like Dresden after the bombing before the buspeople came around and straightened things out for us.
So concluded Dinner Club (2015 ed.) Meeting #1. What else was of note that I can point out here. Oh, Nate (ever the field producer) had our waitress bring back menus for each of us to hold while she photographed the table. After the other five of us refused to hold menus, the resulting photo was put to a vote and the majority chose NOT to post the photo on any social media service. I voted along with the other “nay” sayers because I looked terrible. A new rule will be instituted for our next meeting, which is “Dress For Success.”
Next month David gets to pick the restaurant. I think we agreed that we’re either going in alphabetical order or in reverse “noob” order, which means the newest member of the club picks first and then we’ll work our way back towards the OG, which in this case is Louise. I think. So I’ll either pick after David or five months from now.
To be continued.
Implodes – Don’t Leave The House [MP3]
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